Archaeologists have located a huge limestone bust in the Matareya district of Cairo which experts believe depicts the Pharaoh Ramses II. Several large pieces of the huge artifact were found submerged beneath a pool of thick grey muck. A group of onlookers watched last Thursday as workers used a forklift to raise the statue’s massive head out from the muddy ditch. Thanks to experts, King Ramses was able to take his first breath in more than 3,000 years.
When Ramses II ruled Egypt from 1279 to 1213 BC, Matareya, later known as Heliopolis, was the center of the all-important Sun God civilization. Now, in a career post-script that nobody could have seen coming, the famous pharaoh is poised to take his throne once again, figuratively speaking of course. Though not yet officially identified as Ramses, Dr. Khaled al-Anani, Egyptian Antiquities Minister, suggests, “It is likely him.” Anani added how Ramses was once called the “Great Ancestor.” According to nationalgeographic.com, Ramses may be the pharaoh “from the biblical Book of Exodus.”
A worshipper of Ra, the Sun God during the realm of the New Kingdom, Ramses is said to have reigned when Moses was alive. He was called Ozymandias by the Greeks and constructed a number of major building projects including the temple hall at Karnak and the tomb of Nefertari. Thousands of years later, the Egyptian ruler’s name is still powerful and newsworthy. Mummies and pyramids tell us that immortality probably looks considerably different than what Ramses thought it would be like. Nevertheless, he is still with us in many ways.
Perhaps the most revealing aspect of the unearthing at Matareya is the statue’s geography. The carving was recovered at the entrance to a temple of Ramses. The location of the object coincides with Heliopolis being an important religious place for the Egyptians. The monument also confirms the magnitude of Ramses as a monarch. About the excavation in Matareya, Dietrich Raue, one of the scholars leading the expedition to recover the statue, suggests this is the place where Ramses probably thought the world began. As such, Raue told Newsweek magazine, “Every king had to build here, make statues, temples, obelisks, everything.”
Archaeologists also dug up a smaller eight-foot limestone statue of Pharaoh Seti II, the grandson of Ramses II. After restoration, the Ramses II statue will be placed on exhibition in 2018 at The Grand Egyptian Museum.
Video: ‘Ancient Statue Believed To Be Of Pharaoh Ramses II Discovered In Cairo Slum | TIME/YouTube
Photos: Pharaoh Ramses II in Abu Simbel, Egypt – Hajor, own work/Creative Commons (CC);
Obelisk at Heliopolis – No machine-readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims)/(CC);
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Paul Wolfle has a B.A. in Geography from Hofstra University (m. Art History); and an ARM (Risk Management) insurance certification.